Tech Support

I’ve had a lot of discussions with other authors on how to do various technogeek things. So, in order to avoid repeating myself, I’m going to share some of the tips here. Comments are always welcome.

Graphic Signature in GMail

My gmail email has one of my banners as a signature and I’ve had several people ask how to do it. It shows up like this:

  • Step One: You need to have a graphic stored on your blog or webpage. This banner is named TaglineShibariSails.png and is stored on this blog under the ‘Banners’ tab.
  • Step Two: Login to your gmail account and click on the small gear icon in the upper right corner. Select “Settings”.
  • Step Three: Scroll down to the Signature section. There is a box where you can create a signature just like working on a word processor.
  • Step Four: Add your text and insert your chosen banner with a copy/paste.
  • Step Five: Don’t forget to add a link to your website or blog.
  • Step Six: EXPERIMENT! Don’t be afraid to play with it a bit and try different images, colors, fonts, etc.

How to make a simple banner

So, you want to make your own banner for your webpage and to attach to your email signature. It isn’t as difficult as you might think. Let’s go through the steps.

Setup

Let’s do a little preliminary housekeeping before we actually start making our banner.

  1. Make a new folder on your hard drive and call it ‘Banner’.
  2. I’m sure you have some graphics in mind that you want to use on your banner. These might be your cover art, scenery pictures that you have taken, images you have licensed, or even some of the many public-domain images that are available. Copy the ones you might like to use to your new Banner folder.

Software Requirements

You are going to need a good graphic editor. Forget about the ‘Paint’ program that comes with Windows. It is almost useless for what we want to do.

If you can afford it, there are two commercial programs that are industry standards. They are Adobe Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro.

Personally, I try to use Open Source (FREE) software whenever possible. One of the best graphic editors out there is called GIMP and you can download it for free here: http://gimp.org/

More info on this is available in the page recommending Open Source software.

Choosing a size

There are a series of standard banner sizes that are generally accepted for web usage. Here’s a page that shows them: http://designerstoolbox.com/designresources/banners/

Select one of the banners sizes on that page. Click the “Example” button and then right-click and ‘Save image as…’ to put a copy of the sample banner in your new Banner folder.

Creating the Banner

Open the banner you just downloaded with your graphic editor and before you do any work on it, do a ‘Save As…’ under another, working name. I would suggest something like this:

  • MyBanner01.jpg
  • AuthorName01.jpg

Note how those filenames do not have spaces and they each end in 01. There are occasionally problems with leaving spaces in filenames. It will make your life easier if you don’t put spaces or punctuation of any kind in a filename.

Open one of your other graphics and copy/paste pieces of it into your banner. If the sizes don’t match, you can shrink your original art to fit the parts you want into the banner.

CAVEAT: If you are going to make any changes to the original image, do a ‘Save As…’ to another name.

You NEVER want to work on your original image! 

Keep in mind that sooner or later you are really going to screw it up. If you are working on a copy, no problem, since you can go back and reload the original.

As you work on your banner, you will be trying various ideas and each time you make a major change to it, do another ‘Save As…’ and change the 01 to 02, etc. Then, you can go back and review your projects and eventually one or more of them will jump out at you. You may also want different banners for different sites.

Don’t be afraid to play with the various features in your graphic editor. GIMP for example, has tons of free tutorials and if you spend a little time with one of them, you can become much more productive.

Congratulations!

You now have a banner that you can post to your website, trade with other authors and attach to your email signature file.

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